Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Market Context

This service is designed to support adults with disabilities, physical or sensory impairments, and older people through a range of purposeful activities outside their own home. The main aim is for people who use the service to increase their independence and confidence within their own community, as well as enabling a break for unpaid carers.

Currently services are commissioned under the day opportunities framework.

Market Rating

Please note that the following ratings were conducted during an internal desktop review of the day opportunities provision as part of the Council’s response to the ongoing pandemic. To date there are no overriding quality concerns or capacity issues affecting day opportunities. However, the stated areas for development were identified with reference to the Council’s commissioning vision for day opportunities which represents a significant shift from the conventional service provision as detailed below.

Market Quality Market Supply ECC Demand
(Currently being reviewed) Good Stable
(Currently being reviewed) Market Supply = Good Market Demand = Stable
ECC Ambition Market Workforce Market Maturity
Manage Supply Low Evolving
ECC Ambition = Manage Supply Market Workforce = Low Market Maturity = Evolving

ECC rating of the market, assessed on the 19th January 2022

Essex County Council currently operates a multiple provider day opportunities framework which was designed to support adults aged 18 and over to access a range of purposeful activities outside their own home which enable individuals to increase their skills, gain independence, and develop confidence in their own community. This framework also incorporates the provision of respite for unpaid carers.
The current framework supports the following cohorts:

  • Adults with a Disability (AWD): support for individuals with learning disabilities including autistic spectrum disorders and/or physical and sensory impairments.
  • Older People (OP): support to enable adults to play an active and valued role in their community and retain their skills, knowledge and independence for as long as possible, whilst reducing their dependency upon traditional day services.
  • Unpaid Carers: provision of respite from their informal caring role.
  • Young people aged 18-25

In addition, the Council also operates an onboarding scheme which is designed to secure support for vulnerable adults whose needs cannot be met by an existing framework provider to mitigate the risk of unmet needs.
The current framework is due to expire on 30th September 2022 and the Council is currently co-producing the future direction of travel for this service in conjunction with existing and prospective providers, individuals with lived experience and their representatives/carers.

The scope of the new day opportunities offer will be informed by the strategic commissioning aims as articulated in the Meaningful Lives Matters programme (MLM).

One of the core MLM projects involved the co-design of a new strategic partnership agreement with Essex Cares Limited (ECL). This service was designed to support adults with a disability and/or autism achieve their ambition to explore meaningful employment and provide adults with more choice and control over their support options. This service commenced on 1st April 2020 and has successfully supported over 120 adults to secure paid employment despite the constraints of the COVID pandemic. The success of this offer has informed the Council’s commissioning intentions for the service redesign of day opportunities alongside considering how to incorporate the positive lessons learned from implementing alternative support offers during the emergency phases of the COVID pandemic.

All day opportunities providers have been advised to deliver a blended support offer during the ongoing COVID pandemic, incorporating a range of outreach provision, including but not limited to the use of virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. This approach was designed to mitigate the risk of unmet needs if people are unable/unwilling to access building-based services during this period.

In addition, all day opportunities providers are required to adhere to the latest national guidance on the safe, effective provision of support as detailed on the SCIE website which can be accessed via:

Delivering safe, face-to-face adult day care (

The following spend data is correct as at 17th January 2022 which may be subject to fluctuations over time in line with variations in demand and external factors including the ongoing impact of the pandemic and associated restrictions.

In relation to the stated placement data, please note that this represents the latest recorded committed placement numbers for day opportunities excluding legacy placements relating to the ECL LIVE service. The stated placement data does not correspond to the number of adults who access day opportunities support as some individuals hold multiple day opportunities placements.

In relation to the stated scope of provision, the Council’s records demonstrate that 75 providers deliver day opportunities placements to vulnerable people in Essex across 92 different schemes excluding ECL. Some providers operate multiple day opportunities schemes hence the lack of correlation between the number of providers and day opportunities schemes.

Please note that these figures exclude out of county provision and direct payments/self-funded provision.

Essex ASC Market (ECC Funded)
Total Spend ( including ECL LIVE service) £20 Million
No. Day Opportunities Schemes 92
No. Providers 75
No. Placements (excluding ECL LIVE) 1,586

The information shown in the table(s) above is correct as of January 2022.

The Council is currently undertaking extensive engagement, both internally and externally to determine the optimal delivery model in preparation for the current Day Opportunities Framework which will expire in September 2022.

Essex County Council’s vision is for every adult to be able to live as independently as possible and to enjoy a good and meaningful life. This includes enablement approaches including the Meaningful Lives Matter approach which is based on a principle that many of the long-term solutions to peoples care and support rest within themselves and their families, social networks and surrounding communities.

It is recognised that Day Opportunities can play an important role and can support adults to live a life which is meaningful to them by developing a person’s strengths, skills, knowledge and aspirations. This also includes supporting adults to achieve outcomes that are specific to them, such as maintaining their health and wellbeing, connection to their community, aspects of recovery, relationships, improved skills and to support them to progress towards paid employment.

Our vision is for adults to be engaged within their communities, and to have opportunities to gain skills, achieve personal goals and to improve their own wellbeing and to choose how they are supported to spend their days.

Our vision means that in the future there will be a greater range of opportunities for people, including opportunities for paid employment, volunteering, Day Opportunities, clubs, groups, and community-based support such as community groups and Befriending. The Council intends to reflect this vision within our future commissioning intentions.

During the initial emergency phases of the pandemic all day opportunities providers were advised to close their building-based provision and offer outreach support as an alternative delivery mechanism. This approach was used in conjunction with a risk stratification assessment of all individuals who attended a day opportunities scheme to mitigate the risk of unmet needs. To date, this approach has proved effective in practice and the Council continues to advise day opportunities providers to operate a blended support offer including the use of outreach provision. This guidance is designed to ensure that anyone who is unwilling or unable to attend a building-based day centre can access suitable support to meet their assessed social care needs.

The Council has also provided full guidance on the effective, safe delivery of day opportunities in building-based settings during the recovery phases of the pandemic to support providers to re-open their building-based provision in a COVID-secure environment. This advice was prepared in line with the latest national guidance as published by SCIE.

Current market risks:

Following the COVID-19 recovery survey which was conducted in September 2020 and a subsequent virtual market engagement event in November 2020; providers have advised the Council of the following concerns:

  • Long-term impact of operating at a reduced capacity
  • Access to suitable transport
  • Health and well-being implications of prolonged outreach support via virtual platform

These issues have been considered as part of the Council’s ongoing response to the pandemic with further guidance published as required. In addition, the Council has engaged the market in relation to the service redesign for day opportunities and incorporated the useful feedback to inform the commissioning intentions for this service as detailed below.

Our current area of focus is:

The current day opportunities framework is due to expire in September 2022 and the Council is currently conducting significant internal and external engagement to determine the optimal delivery model to support vulnerable people.

The principle driver for this revised offer is informed by the insight from the MLM programme which identified a need to revise the conventional support offers for people with learning disabilities and/or autism in line with co-production feedback regarding the restrictive nature of the current support offers. One of the key findings from the research phase of the MLM project revealed that people with a learning disability and/or autism in Essex wanted better opportunities and choices – they sought rewarding, paid opportunities, to visit their local shops and amenities, to receive good quality training and to build strong friendship networks in their communities. This feedback informs the Council’s current commissioning intentions for the redesign of day opportunities services.

The Council is planning to conduct further market engagement as part of the ongoing service redesign for day opportunities.

Last updated: 11/10/2022